BILOXI -- The Biloxi Shuckers rallied for two runs in the eighth inning and defeated the Birmingham Barons, 2-1, on Friday night at MGM Park to open up a five-game series. The win keeps the Shuckers one game back of the Pensacola Blue Wahoos for first place in the Southern League South with nine games remaining in the first half. The boisterous crowd of 3,429 witnessed the Shuckers win their 20th game of the season at home, improving to 20-10.
Chris McFarland (1x3, R) opened the eighth with a leadoff single against Robinson Leyer, and advanced to second on Johnny Davis' (1x3, SB) sacrifice bunt. Brett Phillips (0x3, R, BB) drew a free pass and Nathan Orf (1x4) poked an infield single back to the mound to load the bases. Jacob Nottingham (0x3 RBI) skied a fly ball to left for a sacrifice, scoring McFarland to knot the game at 1-1.
Garrett Cooper (1x1, RBI) stepped up for the first time on Friday with runners on first and second and two outs, and the Auburn product shot a single into right, plating Phillips for the go-ahead run.
Daniel Tillman (SV, 3) came on for the save in the ninth and set the Barons down in order for his third save of the season.
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Birmingham (26-35) broke a scoreless game in the fifth, as Marcus Lemon tripled down the line in right with one out and came around to score on Adam Engel's single to right.
That would be the only damage Shuckers' starter Brandon Woodruff would allow as the right-hander allowed the run on five hits, one walk and seven strikeouts, while using 99 pitches to work through 6.2 innings. The Mississippi native has lowered his ERA from 9.00 to 3.90 over his last four starts, and has not allowed more than two earned runs in each of his last three outings.
Stephen Peterson (5-0) earned the win with 1.1 innings of relief of Woodruff, as the southpaw allowed just one hit and needed only nine pitches against four total batters to earn his team-high, fifth win of the season.
Nottingham's hitless night ended his hitting streak at eight games, and stopped his on-base streak at 18.
Biloxi (34-26) improves to 22-0 when leading after eight innings. Nottingham's hitless night ended his on-base streak at 18 games and hitting streak at eight games, but the 21-year-old has hit in 30 of his last 34 games.
The two squads will go at it again in game two of the five-game set from MGM Park. RHP Adrian Houser (2-5, 6.08) makes his first start since June 1 for Biloxi, while Birmingham will send out LHP Jordan Guerrero (3-2, 4.06). First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m., with coverage starting at 6:50 p.m. on the Biloxi Shuckers' Radio Network's flagship station WGCM 1240 AM, 100.9 FM, Pascagoula's WPMO 1580 AM and the TuneIn Radio app.
There will be a Post-Game Fireworks show at the conclusion of Saturday night's contest.
The promotions continue on Sunday for McDonald's Family Fun Day, and celebrate Father's Day early with Little Princess Night, featuring a pre-game Princess Parade and in-game activities. Tuesday is Gulfport Community Night.